Should Businesses Consider Solar Panel Installation?

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Should Businesses Consider Solar Panel Installation?

Sustainable energy is a critical concept for businesses across the globe who are not only looking to reduce their energy emissions but also handle the rising costs associated with traditional power supplies – and with almost 33% of global electricity expected to come from renewable sources by 2024 – with solar photovoltaic (PV) sources accounting for almost 60% of this, there’s little wonder it’s up for discussion.

The advances made in solar energy technologies and the discourse taking place in the echelons of power have made solar options a mainstream talking point, and have seen the solar power industry growing, with solar PV jobs expected to increase by 27% from 2021 to 2031, so it is very apparent that there is huge growth coming from the industry and the energy option that it supplies both commercial and domestic customers across the globe.

There are a number of very attractive reasons why making use of renewable energy should be a serious consideration for businesses who own their own buildings and can afford the initial expenditure to put the infrastructure in place.

Solar energy is a method from which businesses can reduce their energy costs, lower their harmful emissions, and benefit from having control of their own power supply. Yet despite these benefits, and an estimated 145 gigawatts of untapped solar energy coming from unused roof space on commercial buildings in the United States.

In 2020, there was very little take-up of installing the panels, with only 1.6% of commercial buildings generating electric from small-scale solar arrays; but the number of businesses looking to make use of the space, and the benefits of having solar power, is increasing each year with the renewable energy capacity reaching almost 320GW (an 8% increase in 2022).

Why Aren’t More Businesses Installing Solar Panels?

For a lot of SMEs, the initial problem is one that can’t be surmounted alone – and that’s that they don’t own their building space. There are planning requirements and space issues that have to be addressed before a solar array can be installed, and some landlords are reluctant to invest heavily in making the required adjustments to their buildings, in order to meet regulations, requirements, and health & safety standards.

There is also the issue of expense – deciding to make the change to renewable energy is beneficial to businesses in the long run, but the initial cost of surveys, equipment, installation, maintenance, and operation, can be extremely off-putting for businesses who are running on narrow margins or aren’t certain about investing available funds.

As much as we’d like to see more solar equipment and eco-friendly energy alternatives, we do have to realise that these cannot come at the expense of the business involved, and there has to be a satisfactory middle ground reached, something that allows for cleaner energy and less carbon emissions, but also doesn’t risk the financial security of the company.

What Support is there for Solar Energy?

Deciding on making an investment in cleaner greener energy can be an expensive outlay, yes – over time the costs will recoup themselves in the form of lower energy bills, but it’s that initial hurdle that causes the most problems.

For businesses in the US, there used to be interest-free loads provided as part of the ‘Green Deal’ but this came to an end in 2015, and the Feed-In Tarriff ceased in 2019. At present, the only available grant that may be useful for purchasing the materials is the ECO4, or there is the option of investigating the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) route which started in January 2020.

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Should Businesses be Forced to Use Empty Space for Clean Energy?

We would hope that businesses would choose of their own volition to make use of clean energy, and to utilise under used space to provide new options, but this would have to be done in a way that benefits everyone and doesn’t cause financial hardship for the business involved.

Slowly, over time and starting on a domestic angle, there is a drive for new construction and buildings to be energy efficient and include energy saving measures such as Solar PV, and it would not be surprising to find this being rolled out across industrial builds eventually.

Where it’s viable and reasonable to do so, companies should embrace their options and make the best use of their space, but it’s fair to say that it shouldn’t be done as a blanket dictate that doesn’t take into consideration the financial situation, stability, and operational status of the businesses involved.

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